In its annual survey of 20,000 tech professionals, Dice compiles information on what IT consultants and employees are earning in various tech sectors. This year, the company found that "big data and cloud dominate the skills which earn the highest paychecks." In other words, these are the areas of IT you want to get into.
How exactly do you do that? Let's explore a small and growing area of the pie: small business cloud solutions. Many of your clients may be small- or medium-sized companies so it makes sense to start here.
Opportunity Alert: Small Business Cloud Market May Double
Intuit – a maker of tax and business software – reports that 37 percent of small businesses are currently adapted to the cloud. But here's the thing: that number is expected to increase to 78 percent by 2020. The small business cloud market could more than double in the next five years.
The Wall Street Journal explains why small businesses have been slow to adopt cloud tech, but are poised to catch up in a hurry. Small businesses don't have big IT departments (if they even have one at all). They need someone to walk them through the transition to the cloud and answer their questions about cloud security.
While big players in the cloud and SaaS market are currently working to tailor their solutions to small businesses, this is a market that's ripe for IT consultants, contractors, and freelancers, who can work one-on-one with small-business owners.
3 Questions Clients Will Ask IT Consultants about the Cloud
Before you start raking in revenue for small business cloud services, remember that small-business owners may be puzzled by the cloud. You may have to do some "hand-holding" and answer a few basic questions about the cloud, including...
- Is it secure? This is a big concern for small-business owners. Recent data breaches at big-name retailers show us how dangerous it can be to store transactional information on a business's own network. Keeping data on the cloud may be a safer option. Be prepared to explain basic cloud security to your clients. As we covered in "Security Training a Potentially Lucrative Service for Your Small Business Clients," IT consultants can also offer security training and data breach prevention tips to make sure their clients are using best practices to secure their data.
- What's the cost? Cloud services are sold as subscriptions – often between $50 and $150 a month for small businesses. A business owner may balk at that price. $50 a month means $600 a year for software. That's a lot more than the $100 software license your clients have been using for five years. You'll have to convince clients who aren't sure it's worth the upgrade costs.
- What's the benefit of SaaS and the cloud for small businesses? Though cloud technology can cost more, it offers big benefits for small-business owners. With automatic data backup, integration with point-of-sale (cash register) and payment technology, and improved security, cloud tech can simplify the work of SBOs. That's a key selling point.
Let's return to a point we made earlier. SBOs are waiting to adopt the cloud because they want someone to guide them through the process. It's easy for large businesses with big IT departments to understand how the cloud works. For small businesses, it's easy to be overwhelmed.
Market your services as small-business savvy and cloud-friendly to position yourself to guide small businesses to the cloud and capture a piece of a market that's set to double over the next five years.